The MET Museum houses more than 2 million works of art. It’s the largest museum in America and one of the largest in the world. To say it’s overwhelming is an understatement. So if you’re going to visit, you need a game plan.
Basically, you’re going to do a loop counter-clockwise on the ground floor, then go up the main stairs and loop clockwise around the top floor. That’ll allow you to hit all the sections with the best flow.
If you want to see the video tour, watch it here. Otherwise, read on.
So you enter the Great Hall and go to your right. This is Egypt. Go to the end of the hallway until you get to the Temple of Dendur.
That little body of water is meant to represent the Nile. You’ll notice throughout the MET, they’ve tried to recreate the way things would have looked if you were actually there. You can go in and check out the hieroglyphics and examine the temple up close. And this is probably a good time to remind you don’t touch anything.
Head to the American Wing. Check out the lamp posts, the bank façade from Wall street…
…and turn around for Tiffany’s façade and a few of his incredible stained glass masterpieces.
Down to your left, more stained glass, through the doors and you’re in Medieval times.
Check out the armor and then head out to your right. Briefly check out the little rooms to your left to see some amazing woodwork.
I just can’t get over how intricate these wood inlay rooms are.
I mean, look at the detail in here. They even made the bench leg cast a shadow! So cool.
Anyways, keep heading through until you see the giant choir screen.
Go through it straight out to the Robert Lehman Collection.
This is an impressive collection with Pisarro, a few Renoir’s, Cezanne, Toulouse, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Braque, Matisse, and the original study for Seurat’s “Sunday on La Grande Jatte.”
K, back inside and through the screen again. Off to your right and check out a few 18th century French rooms. They’re kinda cool.
The gallery goes in a U-shape, so follow it around and then take a right into the European Sculpture Garden. Check out Perseus holding the Head of Medusa…
…and Ugolino’s anguish. How artists can sculpt that much detail and feeling into a block of marble will always astound me.
Keep going the same direction you were and soon you’ll hit an elevator. This is the only elevator to the roof, which is closed throughout the winter and on bad weather days. It’s got great views of Central Park and midtown if you go on a sunny day.
You can also see Cleopatra’s Needle from up here (the obelisk in Central Park).
Past the elevator and to your right, you’re in Modern art. One of my most favorite sculptures ever is in here, the Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni. Look how he made it look like it’s moving!
Next you’ll see a Jackson Pollack and then this amazing mural by Thomas Hart Benton.
Interestingly, Jackson Pollack was a student of Benton, and he was probably the model for the worker above.
From here, go into the Pacific Islands with this enormous Kwoma ceremonial house ceiling.
Then you’ll pop into Greek and Roman sculptures – this is different from before.
Walk past that massive column on the far side and you’ll find yourself back in the Great Hall where you started. You can bail here if you need to but lets go upstairs for round 2.
You’re greeted by some massive Tiepolo’s. Take a right and this section is the Old Masters. Try not to get distracted by this Panini or the Canaletto’s in here. You’re on a mission.
You can use the metmuseum.org’s webapp and their free wifi to search the collection and that will help you find what you’re looking for. Follow along with the map as I call out room numbers.
Stop in room 618 to see the Fortune Teller and laugh at the 1% getting unwittingly robbed by everyone around him.
Room 621 has the Denial of Saint Peter from Caravaggio.
Take a peek in 625 to see the $45 million dollar Madonna and Child by Duccio.
To 642 for Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Harvesters.
Up to 637 for Rembrandt’s Aristotle and Homer.
And then all the way up to the corner room 632 for a couple Vermeer’s.
And then 628 is a room full of Rubens.
A few of El Greco’s masterpieces are in 611.
And then check out 614 for the Death of Socrates…
…and the original plaster model for Cupid and Psyche (the final sculpture is in the Louvre).
Out of here and you’re back in the American wing. Swing around to the left of the atrium…
…to room 771 to check out Sargent’s Madame X (personally I like the Lady with the Flower better, but it wasn’t controversial so it’s less famous).
Head to 760 to see Washington crossing the Delaware.
Turn around and walk all the way to the Eagle (748, but you’ll see it), take a right and check out the “Tall Clock” that Alexander Hamilton gave to the Bank he started in Philly (in the hallway with the elevator by 703).
Open the door to Asia. It’s open, trust me. I know it looks closed. Nothing super famous in here, but you’ll pass by a few cool things.
That’ll dump you out into the Balcony Bar overlooking the Great Hall. Take a picture.
On the far side, you’ll see some Assyrian Palace guards. Interestingly, they have 5 legs. This is so they look like they’re standing on guard from the front, but walking from profile.
Turn right and wander past these two lions from Babylon, which if you’ve been to the Pergamon in Berlin and you’ve seen the Ishtar Gate, these are from that.
Walk over to 19th and 20th century Europe, which is the museum’s most complicated maze of paintings, but probably the most famous. Start in 817 and 816 for paintings by Degas, Pisarro, Toulouse, and Manet, and then 815 is the famous Degas statue of the 14-year old Dancer.
Room 10 has a bunch of larger-than-life Manet’s.
And then head straight into 821 for Renoir’s famous painting of the three daughters of Catulle Mendes.
On the opposite side of the daughters wall is Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses.
This room (822) also has a few other Van Gogh’s and a few Monet’s.
Head over to 825 for one of Van Gogh’s self portraits…
…and another preliminary study for Seurat’s Sunday in La Grande Jatte (the final painting is in Chicago).
This room also has Gauguin’s Two Tahitian Women.
Into 826 and 823 now to see Cezanne’s…
…and another Seurat.
I just love his style. It’s just dots when you’re up close!
Finally you’ll hit 819 with a room full of Monet’s.
Leave the maze and go into the hallway past Rodin’s statue.
Walk down the long photography hallway and take a right before you get to the grand staircase. This is a patio taken from an abandoned castle in Spain.
If you head down the stairs in the corner of the patio (the one with the tapestry on the wall), and then walk out straight from the stairs, you’ll end up in the Great Hall again.
Congratulations! You just saw the MET! 🙂